If you haven't seen "Simpsons Already Did It" from season 6 of "South Park," you're missing out. "The Simpsons" have been on so long (25 seasons and over 500 episodes) that they've become Butters' Professor Chaos, stymied by the originality of the show's earlier years. And you can imagine how difficult it is to not step on Matt Groening's hallowed yellow feet when "The Simpsons" have even resorted to regurgitating their own plots, leaning more and more on the star power of their guest stars to generate enough viewer interest--minus Ted Nugent, of course.
One of the last real reasons to tune in is the rotating "couch gag" in the opening credits and the annual "Treehouse of Horrors" episode. Thanks to director, Guillermo del Toro, we can indulge in both trivialities and avoid Homer the hipster or a walk-on by Julian Assange. The famed fantasy aficionado has created a 2-minute-45-second homage to all things frightening, including appearances by Zippy the Pinhead from "Freaks," Dewey Largo dressed as the Phantom of Paradise, and Chief Wiggum devouring Lard Lad as the Harryhausen cyclops from "7th Voyage of Sinbad."
Even with horror scribes Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Ray Bradbury, loitering around Springfield, the most fun is identifying all the references to del Toro's own work, with cameos by Blade, Hellboy, and Mr. Burns as Pale Man from "Pan's Labyrinth."
You could spend all day dissecting screenshots to spot all the iconic ghouls, B-movie monsters, and references to Groening's former glory (including Hypnotoad from "Futurama"). Let's just hope that the rest of the episode, which airs this Sunday (Oct. 6), lives up to the promise of all its leaked hype.
About Viewer Discretion
ContributorsMatthew Gilbert is the Globe's TV critic.
Sarah Rodman is a staff TV and music critic for the Boston Globe.
Michael Brodeur is the assistant arts editor for the Boston Globe, covering pop music, TV, and nightlife.
Katie McLeod is Boston.com's features editor.
Rachel Raczka is a producer for Lifestyle and Arts & Entertainment at Boston.com.
Emily Wright is an Arts & Entertainment producer at Boston.com.